January 4, 2019

Fast-growing mental health services provider expects to add 150 jobs

Courtesy / Laura Catevenis
Courtesy / Laura Catevenis
Laura Catevenis, shown with her 4-year-old daughter, Lydia, launched Black Bear Support Services LLC in Lewiston in early 2016. The MaineCare-financed mental health services startup is on a major growth and expansion drive.

Three years after launching Black Bear Support Services LLC in Lewiston, Laura Catevenis has big plans for the fast-growing mental health services startup this year.

As a so-called Section 28 agency financed by MaineCare — Maine's Medicaid program — it provides rehabilitative and community support services to children and youth up to age 20 with developmental disabilities in Lewiston, Portland and Augusta.

The agency, which currently employs 65, was featured in Mainebiz's September 2018 list of "10 Maine Startups to Keep an Eye On."

Black Bear Support Services saw gross revenues shoot up from $380,000 in 2017 to more than $1 million last year and total billable hours quadruple to 800 hours a week.

Catevenis, who started her business with coaching help from New Ventures Maine, is optimistic of the growth momentum staying strong.

"We're going to do pretty well," she told Mainebiz.

One reason for that is newly received MaineCare approval to provide Section 21 and 29 support services to adults with intellectual disabilities. It will do so through six programs, including community, home and career support, in the three cities it operates in.

While there is no set amount the agency will receive for the new programs, Catevenis estimates $1.8 million a year in additional cash flow generated by serving 200 adults.

She also projects gross revenues of $3.5 million in 2019 and $4 million in 2020.

"Knowing me, I'll be expanding across the country by then," she added.

To staff the new adult programs, Catevenis expects to fill 150 new jobs — and she intends to keep recruiting via social media where she's had huge success so far. "I'm finding quality staff on social media," she said. "I barely have to fire anyone I've found through Facebook."

The vast majority of Black Bear Support Services employees work remotely, though the company has a small space in Lewiston for day programs.

Its hiring drive will continue as the agency looks to extend its geographic footprint starting with Bangor, with help from a $5,000 loan from the city to launch children's support services there, and potentially into other areas such as occupational therapy. Ellsworth is also on the radar.


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